The Top 5 of Local Store Marketing

While the past decade has brought big changes to the way restaurants drive their business, one fact has not changed—the biggest share of a restaurant’s traffic will come from a 2-3 mile radius around the location. Whether LSM programs are communicated via traditional print, digital marketing or social media, the objective is always the same: Build business from people in your neighborhood.

What is Local Store Marketing?

Local Store Marketing, “LSM” for short, is the combination of advertising, sales promotion and community relation activities that are to increase sales at your restaurant. Typical LSM programs are tailored to one restaurant, real grassroots marketing efforts designed to increase traffic, sales, check averages, repeat visits and strengthen certain dayparts.

At Solutions Group we are proud of our reputation as LSM specialists. It comes from years working with big national chains and smaller regionals as well as individual operators. Having designed and implemented literally thousands of LSM programs across the country we have a pretty good sense of which ones are the top performers – the programs our clients repeat again and again because they work. Here’s the LSM Top 5 list and get ready because there may be one or two surprises.

LSM #5: Daypart Programs

Take Advantage of Slow Times to Build Your Bottom Line

Daypart Programs are designed to flip the clock by bringing more customers in to a restaurant during what might normally be a slower time period or even day of the week. For example, if Breakfast is your busiest time, you can deploy a Daypart Program to drive Lunch or Dinner traffic. It may sound simple but it’s a solid performer.

How it works:

  • Daypart Programs can be executed quickly and can be very cost-effective. Start by targeting the daypart you want to boost. Choose a special offer for that daypart. Communicate the offer to guests and the people in your Local Marketing Area.
  • Communicating the offer can happen many ways. Examples are:
  • In-store signage such as banners, posters, table tents.
  • Hand-outs to your guests such as check presenters, flyers, frequency cards.
  • Local print advertising in newspapers, dining guides, programs.
  • Digital resources including text messages, social media, web advertising.

Pro Tip: Measure! Plan to do your program for a set time period and keep track of results. Use the data to fine-tune your next daypart program.

LSM #4: Bounceback Coupons

Bring ’Em Back for More!

Once you’ve enticed a guest in the door you’re halfway on the road to success. Now think about how you can motive that guest to come back soon, and hopefully with a few friends and family attached.

Bounceback Coupons are a basic “block and tackle” tactic for restaurant operators. As your happy guest is leaving, put a simple coupon in their hand as an incentive to come back…and come back soon. You’ll also be letting them know their business is valued.

How it works:

  • Bounceback Coupons are another easy-to-do LSM Program and they are very cost-effective. Start by choosing one or more special offers. Think strategically about what the offer will be and how long is the offer valid. Our suggestion is to make the offer period fairly short, for example 30 days, so the guest returns soon.
  • Make up your coupons. They can be as simple as a traditional printed coupon placed in the guest’s hand with their check, or if your restaurant has the technology available bounceback coupons can be delivered via text or email.

Pro Tip: Just as with the Daypart Program the hot tip here is to measure, measure, measure.

LSM #3: Catering and Delivery

Embrace New Dining Trends

I’ve just read a statistic from Technomic that says 86% of consumers are now using off-premise services at least monthly. Your restaurant may already offer these services but are you doing all you can to let people in your Local Marketing Area know they are available? A good Catering and Delivery Program is part of a successful LSM plan and here are three keys to getting the word out.

  1. It all starts in your restaurant. Be sure to have plenty of signage and other messaging to let guests know that catering and delivery are now available. Signage, table tents, menu call-outs, counter-cards, crew badges and more are great places to start.
  2. Tell the story digitally. Feature catering and delivery prominently on your website and in your social media plan. Consider a digital ad campaign.
  3. Old-style techniques still work. Hire a local service to deliver hand-bills and take-out menus to households in your Local Marketing Area. Drop-off catering menus at offices, businesses, hospitals and the like – where they are frequently ordering meals of in-office lunches.

LSM #2: Senior Specials

Don’t Laugh – It Works

There are 108.7 million folks age 50-plus in the U.S. And in the next decade that group will grow more than the 18-49 population. That’s almost half the population and they eat out a lot! So it makes sense to offer a special incentive to bring these folks into your restaurant.

One of the most tried-and-true ways is with a special Senior Menu. Some restaurants simply offer a special deal on a few regular-menu items but smart operators will develop a menu with specific menu offerings priced for seniors. Keep in mind that seniors often prefer smaller portions so this is actually an opportunity to boost your profit margins, not to mention add-on sales such as beverages and deserts.

When you’ve decided on your Senior Menu/Offer, be sure to get the word out both inside your restaurant and in the community.

Pro Tip: Seniors tend to be very loyal customers to treat them right and they’ll be back again and again. . . often with family and friends in tow.

LSM #1: Kids Eat Free

Because Kids Rarely Dine Alone

Yes, it’s true! The LSM Program we at Solutions Group most frequently are asked to implement are variations of “Kids Eat Free.” It’s all about making your restaurant a family-friendly environment to enjoy the repeat business of busy moms and dads.

Some restaurant operators offer Kids Eat Free on one week-day (a way to drive traffic on an otherwise slow daypart) while others do it 24/7. Often there’s a special Kid’s Menu of choices that qualify for the free offer and each free kids meal usually requires the purchase of an adult entrée.

If you decide to do a Kids Eat Free program, be sure to let your Local Marketing Area know about the offer. As I’ve advised on other programs, signage in your restaurant and in the community are must-dos. For Kids Eat Free you can even expand your thinking to distribute flyers at places where families are hanging out – local soccer fields, schools, churches and more.

So there you have them – the Solutions Group Fundamentals Top 5 LSM Programs! I hope they’ve provided some inspiration for your restaurant and remember—give us a call if we can be of any help.